'Lost and Found' - an installation by Terry Kurgan at DAG
'Lost and Found' won Terry Kurgan the prestigious Vita Art Prize in the year 2000. A photographic installation of large-scale digital prints onto silk organza it broke new ground for Kurgan in her search to give material form to subjective experiences of familial relationships. Kurgan's interest in memory and desire, and the relationship between visual records and absence is aptly registered in these diaphanous sheets that both hold and dissolve the images.
For Kurgan family photographs, as much as they are visual reminders that secure the immortality and prominence of the subject in the mind of the viewer, they are also an inventory of mortality. Such images behold the tension between the past and the present, between a past that exists in the present and a past that is forever gone. They represent the impossibility of the desire to hold, or contain, some concrete reminder of present experience, as they are tied so precisely to a particular moment that they are always simultaneously a record of something or someone no longer there.
The images in the exhibition are from the 1950s and 1960s - when cameras became commonplace. They are typical of those first colour photographs in that very particular Kodak colour of that era. Kurgan says that she "wanted them to feel as though they could belong to anybody and close to the childhood of most people looking at them today". She also wanted "to avoid the nostalgic and sentimental associations one might have with the older, more formal studio portraits" and instead wanted them to resonate "with the sense that for a split second the photographed subjects were the centre of somebody's (the photographer's) universe".
Some of the images shown were found among Kurgan's parents' collection of old family photographs, the ones that never made it into the albums. Others belong to extended family members and friend's families or are anonymous photographs found in second-hand shops.
The artist, who is based in Johannesburg, will be giving a walkabout of the exhibition on Thursday February 6 at 9:30 a.m.
Opens: February 5 at 6:00pm
Closes: March 30
Durban Art Gallery, 2nd floor, City Hall, Smith Street
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